Apple Does Not Create, They Reinvent
There are those inventions that come to market that everybody “must have.” For example, the telephone was first invented in 1876, and was found in every household in America until the advent of the cellphone. Radio was first invented in 1906. Toda, it is everywhere. It plays at the grocery store, in the car, while waiting on hold, and while shopping at the mall. Television was first invented in 1927. Not only is it found in every household in America today, but the average American home now has nearly 3 TV sets. Although we live in an innovative culture, it is not every day that we come across a “must have” invention.
What if a company were to take an existing product and reinvent it? To reinvent a product is to take an already existing product and to make it so much better that people forget that it existed prior to the re-branding of that product. Apple is one such innovative company. They did not create the MP3 player, they reinvented it and called it the iPod. Apple did not create the cell phone, they reinvented it and called it the iPhone. They did not create the tablet, they reinvented it and called it the iPad. Apple did not create the smartwatch, but they did reinvent it, calling it the Apple Watch.
Designed For Employees, Not Customers
When the engineers at Apple design a product, they design it for themselves, not for the customer. Imagine for a moment what it must be like to be an engineer at Apple. You would have an endless budget and a clean slate to design the product just the way YOU wanted it. It is one thing to design something for someone else, but quite another to design it for yourself. When given complete freedom to build yourself something, to reinvent something to your every satisfaction, well, that truly is an engineer’s dream job.
This is the approach that Apple took for the design of the Apple Watch. They saw what was out there, and developed something better by giving their engineers complete creative freedom. That is what they do. It is how they operate. This approach to product development ensures superb craftsmanship. It definitely sets the Apple Watch apart from the rest, because almost all other companies design a product based on what they think the customer wants—not daring to give their engineers such creative freedom.
Quality and Craftsmanship
The quality and craftsmanship of products put out by Apple are just incredible. Again, Apple engineers are given the freedom to create a product that they themselves would want, where a budget does not determine creativity. With such an approach to development, few competitors will be able to rival the quality and craftsmanship poured into the Apple Watch. There are companies, however, that do offer tremendous quality and craftsmanship (but those companies are far and few in-between).
To understand just how much this philosophy impacted Apple, you need to understand the culture that Steve Jobs instilled while he served as the CEO prior to his death in October, 2011. Without writing an entire book on this subject, perhaps a few quotes from Steve Jobs will help offer a better understanding of the culture that he had instilled within Apple.
The following quote is taken from Walter Isaacson’s biography entitled, “Steve Jobs.” This quote reveals just how thorough he was, even in the mundane things. In everything he created, he did so with excellence.
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is also credited for having used the following baseball metaphor in relation to delivering a product to market, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” He had an obsession of delivering quality, and would not be manipulated by deadlines.
People with Passion can Change the World.
If anything, Apple is passionate about their products. They are passionate about every minute detail of every product that they deliver. This sets Apple apart from their competitors. They do not take shortcuts. Even at the behest of their shareholders, they do not take shortcut. That is because Apple has developed a culture of passionate people who aim to change the world for the better. Steve Jobs said:
“Apple at the core, it’s a core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better … and that those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones that actually do.”
Since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011, Tim Cook has built upon the foundation that Steve Jobs laid. The culture of Apple today is encapsulated in the summary of Apple’s business philosophy according to Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO.
- “We believe that we are on the face of the Earth to make great products.”
- “We believe in the simple, not the complex.”
- “We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.”
- “We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.”
- “We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.”
- “We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.”
- “We not settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we are wrong and the courage to change.”
Simplicity Trumps Choice
Apple adheres to the philosophy that simplicity trumps choice. In other words, it is far more important to ensure that the product is easy to use, even if that means that your options are limited. Apple has applied this philosophy to every product they have ever produced.
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” – Steve Jobs
For example, a friend of mine just purchased the Apple Watch 3, and I could not help but to ask him a few questions. I focused on the Apple Watch band that he was wearing and I asked him how easy is it to remove it. To demonstrate how easy it was to change the watch band, he removed it from the watch itself within 2 seconds. He then connected it to the watch again within 2 seconds. OK, I was impressed. Very impressed. I cannot remove the watch band from my Samsung Gear S3 and put it back on again that fast, that is for sure.
What impressed me the most was the simplicity of it all. When the engineers at Apple were tasked with designing the Apple Watch, they also had to take into account the mechanism they would employ to allow users to change out the watch band. Simplicity was their focus and boy, did they deliver. 2 seconds? Impressive.
Don’t Make Me Think
When the Apple watch was first designed, in the name of simplicity, the engineers constantly asked themselves, “How can we design this watch so that it is so intuitive that people will never ask how to use it?” That question stayed with them throughout the entire development process. You can navigate using the dial, or use your finger to touch the screen. You can even tell it what to do and it will do it. It is that simple. What separates Apple from the rest? In a word, simplicity.
Apple has changed the industry by defining what good customer support looks like. Have you ever had a problem with ANY tech product that you have purchased in the past? Of course you have. We all have. Apple rightly recognized that if they went above and beyond in serving their customers, those very customers would become repeat customers. If they just simply focus on the customer (not the product), giving as much time and attention as the customer wants, addressing any and all questions that the customer might have, there is a very high probability that the customer will not only purchase again from Apple, but also encourage others to do the same. It is pure genius.
This approach to customer service has transformed Apple, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 17 years.
Apple has grown a lot since 2001, when the first Apple store was introduced. They now answer questions via social media, which was unheard of in 2001. In addition, they offer live online chats, support through their own app, and of course, you can always reach them by phone. Today, they even offer support by posting tutorials to their own YouTube channel. They truly want to make themselves available to their customers.
What separates Apple from the rest? If innovation, quality, craftsmanship, and passion are the bedrock of Apple, then product usability and customer service are the pillars that allow this company to continue to develop outstanding products well into the future.